Business Lessons that Every Entrepreneur Can Learn from Successful Athletes

While not everyone can be a professional athlete, there is plenty to learn from them by observing and imitating their habits and practices.

Entrepreneurs, especially, can gain a lot from studying the mindset of athletes. While business and sports may seem two very different fields, at the heart of both, the goal is similar: for a person to perform at the highest level possible and be a success.

That is why many athletes turn out to be great entrepreneurs. A few examples are Maria Sharapova (who opened a candy line), Venus Williams (who founded a clothing line and an interior design company), Wayne Gretzky (who now owns a restaurant and a winery), and George Foreman (who launched various products such as a grill).

Let Pressure Push You to Work Harder

Athletes face tremendous amounts of pressure. Standing in the field with hundreds of people clapping or booing at them, with millions more watching on their respective television screens at home, it is easy to buckle and not push through with the game. Nervousness is natural, especially when there is a lot in the line. Athletes also feel nervous and tense but do not let it stop them. It pushes them to do better.

Entrepreneurs, like athletes, are pressured to make the right decisions because one mistake can cause the business and everything they have worked for to come crumbling down. Running a business is a constant fight for survival. The emergence of new competitors, an economic downturn, shifts in the political and social landscape, and frequent changes in the market can jeopardize the future of the business. If the entrepreneur buckles under pressure, no one will be there to save them. The business will go under.

Entrepreneurs, therefore, must emulate athletes and learn how to perform under pressure. They can harness the pressure to motivate and inspire them to do better.

Competition Is a Great Motivator


Competition is normal for athletes. They meet similar driven players regularly.

In business, competition is inevitable. Even if a business was first in the market, eventually, similar ventures will open and threaten the business’s success.

Athletes enjoy competition, and they are more motivated by it. When they encounter another athlete whose skills match or exceed their own, they do not back down. They play harder than they have ever played.

Entrepreneurs, when faced with competition, should not focus on taking down the new business. They should develop innovative strategies to boost the growth of their small business and maintain their lead in the market.

Grit Separates the Good from the Truly Great

One cannot succeed without hard work, whether as an athlete or an entrepreneur. While some seem to be naturally good at what they do, those abilities are nothing without grit.

What separates successful people from those with the potential is the passion, commitment, and self-discipline to spend hours of their day toiling. Athletes train on their own, even when there is no one watching over them. Entrepreneurs work overtime, even when there is no one to acknowledge their efforts.

Those who may not have the talent can be greater than those who do because they know the value of grit.

Being in the Moment

Most people live either in the past or the future — never in the present. They feel embarrassed or discouraged by a previous failure. They worry about an event that has not happened yet.

But, athletes can only do their best on the court every game because they live in the moment. Their brains focus on the ball, the movement of their teammate and/or their competitor, and the clock on the board. That is how they can collect as much information as possible about their environment, predict the consequences of an action, and make the right decision in a blink of an eye. Their attention is on the task at hand, never in the past or future.

Entrepreneurs must also learn how to be “in the zone.” The present, not the past or future, needs their full attention to make better decisions and come up with unique ideas.

Successful athletes and entrepreneurs share similar skills and traits. Professional athletes become effective CEOs. For an entrepreneur to better run their business, they need to learn from professional athletes.

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